The best and worst of this season’s network TV imports

Mom title card (screenshot via City)

Mom title card (screenshot via City)

The season’s best new sitcom: Mom (CBS/City)
This season gave us Mom and DadsDads on Fox was critically reviled and is pegged for a cancellation. That’s despite getting roughly the same or even higher ratings than post-Superbowl shows New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Mom, on the other hand, flew under the radar. It was stuck in a crappy timeslot—Mondays at 9:30 behind the faltering vulgar series 2 Broke Girls for the first bit of the season, and the slowly imploding hey look, two fat people and they’re in love show, Mike and Molly, for the rest of it. Following Mom were two duds (stateside at least), Intelligence and Hostages.

I think Mom is a great show many people missed out on. I’ve said a great sitcom makes you cry and a great drama makes you laugh. It takes real skill to have a show blur the lines between the two while still managing to stay in its respected genre.

Mom was one of the few new series able to do so. What’s also remarkable is it took the HBO and Showtime sitcom subject matter, dusted it off for primetime network TV and…um… actually made it funny.

It tackled infidelity, teen pregnancy, cancer, embezzlement, jail time, child abandonment, alcoholism and more, all with class and ease. It’s a bit crass but not too crass—it has heart and charm too.

Violet, Bonnie and Christie of Mom (screenshot via City)

Violet (Sadie Calvano), Bonnie (Allison Janney) and Christie (Anna Faris) of Mom (screenshot via City)

That’s not to say it’s perfect. Anna Faris’ character, Christy, is somewhat insufferable, her mother, Bonnie, can be too much at times, her daughter, Violet, is a bit of a moody caricature of a teenager, and her son, Roscoe’s character doesn’t seem that well developed. I had to quit an episode part way through it because that particular episode was just so vapid. It was focused on French Stewart’s dreadful character, Chef Rudy, who is a bit of a sexual deviant.

However, despite those flaws, it’s a stellar series, and I was quite impressed with how Allison Janney portrayed Bonnie, even though the writers went slightly overboard with making her character overly reckless.

CBS is rerunning Mom in its usual Monday at 9:30 time-slot this summer. It’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t checked out its first-run episodes.
Sean Saves the World title card (screenshot via NBC)

Sean Saves the World title card (screenshot via NBC)

The season’s most underrated sitcom: Sean Saves the World (NBC/Global)
People were merciless with Sean Saves the World and I’m not sure why. Maybe they found Sean Hayes annoying, perhaps they just didn’t like the idea of a sitcom revolving around a gay single dad, possibly people felt it was too 90s, but truth be told, Sean Saves the World was a decent sitcom.

It may have not been the most original comedy on television. The single parent, goofy coworkers and overbearing mother elements have been done to death since Mary Tyler Moore hit the air, and I suppose you can argue some of those elements have been sitcom staples well before that. Despite that, it was still an enjoyable half-hour of television.

It’s a shame people just didn’t want to give it a chance. It got a few chuckles out of me and I thought it possibly had the most realistic portrayal of a gay character on TV. Sean wasn’t loud, obnoxious or flamboyant, he was just like any other sitcom character, and perhaps that’s what drew people away…he was kinda dull.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine title card (screenshot via City)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine title card (screenshot via City)

The season’s most overrated sitcom: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox/City)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast from title sequence (screenshot via City)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast from title sequence (screenshot via City)

This was just a miserable, mediocre, painfully unfunny sitcom. It was essentially a half hour of Andy Sandberg acting like an ass and his costars putting up with it. Andy Sandberg plays an incredibly dimwitted, childish cop character. You might wonder how a police department can put up with a childish buffoon and not fire him. That’s because he falls ass-backward into solving crimes and that apparently makes him indispensable.

The show isn’t funny; it doesn’t have much of a following; and its ratings are anemic despite airing after the Super Bowl with New Girl, yet it still is coming back for a second season. (I know, I don’t get it either.)

However, considering the miserable Mindy Project is back next season as well, that must mean the folks over at Fox just have no idea what they’re doing.
The Michael J. Fox Show title card (screenshot via YouTube/Global)

The Michael J. Fox Show title card (screenshot via YouTube/Global)

The season’s most disappointing sitcom: The Michael J Fox Show (NBC/Global)

You could see the problem with The Michael J. Fox Show a mile away, but no one would really want to touch it with a 10 foot pole: Fox has Parkinson’s which is a devastating disease.

Still from The Michael J. Fox Show opening sequence (screenshot via YouTube/Global)

Still from The Michael J. Fox Show opening sequence (screenshot via YouTube/Global)

The show often tried to ignore Fox’s Parkinson’s, despite that it is hard to ignore since he can’t control his shaking. In the times the show addressed the disease, it tried to make light of Parkinson’s, and that simply just didn’t work.

Putting Michael J. Fox himself aside, the writing, acting and premise were all stiff and we were left with a very bland, witless Modern Family clone. Put all that together and that’s a tough sell, no matter how much we all love Michael J. Fox.

 It’s a shame this didn’t work out because if it did I think it would’ve changed people’s perception of Parkinson’s for the better.
The Millers title card (screenshot via globaltv.com)

The Millers title card (screenshot via globaltv.com)

The season’s worst sitcoms: We Are Men (CBS/Global), Welcome to the Family (NBC/City) and The Millers (CBS/Global)
We Are Men was just a stupid idea and given the axe swiftly (after two episodes). Welcome to the Family was one of those shows that was so awful I couldn’t even make it through the debut episode, and The Millers was crass, relied on potty humour and it’s particularly disappointing considering the talented cast.
Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott in Hostages (screenshot via YouTube/CBS)

Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott in Hostages (screenshot via YouTube/CBS)

The season’s worst drama: Hostages (CBS/CTV)
It was such of an idiotic premise: A family of a doctor is held hostage to get her to kill the president in a surgery. How they stretched that premise past two episodes is beyond me. The most insulting part about Hostages was the waste of talent. Toni Collette is such of a great actress, it was a shame to see her time wasted with this atrocity.

Screenshot of Fox Sleepy Hollow promo (screenshot via YouTube.Fox)

Screenshot from a Fox Sleepy Hollow promo (screenshot via YouTube.Fox)

The season’s most surprising success: Sleepy Hollow (Fox/Global)
Screenshot from a Fox Sleepy Hollow promo (screenshot via YouTube/Fox)

Screenshot from a Fox Sleepy Hollow promo (screenshot via YouTube/Fox)

I had this pegged for the season’s first cancellation because the show’s premise seemed too out there. While being an oddball might draw the curious to start, I felt it would draw two very different audiences since it was a hybrid of the modern procedural and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Subsequently, I thought people who were tuning in for the modern take on Washington Irving’s short story would get tired of the police procedural bit, and people who were tuning in for a police procedural would get tired of hearing about The Headless Horseman. Somehow, the show worked and the audience didn’t disappear. It was actually the first series renewed this season if my memory serves me correctly.

Agents of SHIELD title card (screenshot via CTV GO)

Agents of SHIELD title card (screenshot via CTV GO)

The season’s most disappointing drama: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC/CTV)
This show was supposed to save ABC. It seems the network was so sure of SHIELD’s success that it cancelled the Dancing With the Stars results show and put this in its place. While superhero movies dominate the box office, something was lost in translation here and people tuned out. It does a bit better here in Canada than in the US, but still, poor ABC must be really frustrated with this show.
The Blacklist title card (screenshot via NBC)

The Blacklist title card (screenshot via NBC)

James Spader as he appears in The Blacklist opening sequence (screenshot via NBC)

James Spader as he appears in The Blacklist opening sequence (screenshot via NBC)

The season’s most successful new drama: The Blacklist (NBC/Global)
This show has seen solid ratings on both sides of the border. While it has The Voice lead-in on NBC, which means a lot in the US, in Canada, Global currently airs it after Remedy—not the strongest lead-in, but it either case it delivers. I’m betting we’re going to see this on NBC/Global’s schedules for a while.
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